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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Life Lessons From 'How I Met Your Mother'

(Don't worry.  No spoilers.)

Last night, 'How I Met Your Mother' came to an end after nine seasons.  The final episode seems to have given many fans mixed feelings about the story's end.  Personally, I thought they did a very good job at wrapping things up.  The writers answered a number of our unresolved questions.  Though the show never really jumped the shark, it did have a couple of mediocre periods during it's nine year run.  It was great to see the show end with such a phenomenal episode....even though they never did get to explaining the "pineapple incident".

Over the course of 208 episodes of any show, it ought to be easy to come away with at least a couple of morals from the story.  After watching every single episode of HIMYM since early 2005, I can think of at least a dozen lessons I could jot down from the series.  I'll do my best to limit it to five or six.

1.) Take Chances/Accept Challenges

"It works two out of three times, every time."
Let's face it.  'How I Met Your Mother' would not have been worth watching had the characters not taken any chances.  Whether it be "The Naked Man" or a blue french horn, opportunities will present themselves to take your life into a direction that you haven't previously planned for.  Don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, and zig where you would normally zag.  Just don't do anything that could potentially get you arrested and/or have your name put on the sex offender registry, okay? 

2.) Know Your Murtaugh List (Accept Your Limitations)
The "Murtaugh List" was featured in season four.  It was named after the character Danny Glover played in Lethal Weapon, and the resulting catchphrase from the movie:
Ted created a "Murtaugh List", a list of activities he thought he was too old to do anymore.  Over the course of the episode, Barney attempts to complete every activity on Ted's list, with horrifying (and comical) results.
I have many things on my Murtaugh List.  I'll be 39 in two months, and there are many things that I did in my twenties that I wouldn't be able to physically attempt today.  Like, staying up for 72 hours straight at Coachella.  Or, buying general admission tickets for a punk show.  Or, let's say, anything involving a rave. (Do they even have raves anymore?)
There's no shame in knowing your limitations.  Doing so prevents massive hangovers and emergency room bills.   
3.)  Never Settle
Over the course of nine seasons, Ted had been with 40+ women, with varying degrees of commitment.  A couple were simply casual sexual encounters, and some were serious long term relationships.  There were at least four or five women that could have very easily become his wife.  But, they didn't.  They weren't "the one".
There are times in life, especially when it comes to relationships, when you start to think to yourself that you're never going to find that perfect outcome.  Sure, you may find yourself in a situation where you find some of the things you're looking for.  You think that "good enough" is better than nothing.  But, "good enough" isn't a dream come true, and it will always disappoint you in the end.

4.) Marry Your Best Friend
Lily and Marshall are the best example (on television) of a successful marriage.  They were together for more than 20 years, and in the end, were still buddies.  That was the key to their success.  They were the best of friends.  Most relationships tend to get rocky when two people spend too much time with each other.  Marshall and Lily's marriage suffered when they weren't around each other 24/7.
Over the course of the series, their open communication and trust in each other (with a couple of exceptions) set the bar for how married couples are depicted on television.  When you think about it, they were the one great story that came out of the series.  In the end, they had everything they could have ever possibly wanted.  Sure, there were times when their relationship took a step or two back.  But, they were always making progress.  No one was rooting for them to stay together.  No one had to.  No matter how much crap the world threw at them, we all knew they would come out on top, because they had an advantage that no other couple on the show had.  They were partners, lovers, and most of all, the best of friends.

5.)  Life Sucks Sometimes
I'm going to do my best not to allude to any spoilers here.
Sometimes, life has a habit of screwing up your plans.  And, it seems that bad things only happen to good people.  Your reaction to those bad things will determine whether your story ends in tragedy or in a "happily ever after".  
You're lucky if you ever find the love of your life.  Some people are lucky enough to find them twice in a lifetime.  It's all a matter of perspective.
6.) It's Totally Okay For A 38-Year-Old, 6'4", 320 lb Man To Cry Watching Television
That's all I'm going to say on that topic.....